After enjoying only limited success with its original 5 Series hybrid, BMW has returned to the UK market with the 530e which claims to set fresh efficiency standards in premium executive motoring.
Boasting class-leading standards in emissions, economy and electric driving range, the new 530e iPerformance saloon delivers significant improvements over the Active Hybrid model that was withdrawn from the showrooms 18 months ago after failing to generate sufficient sales.
"What we have now is a fully no-compromise car when it comes to performance and one that is more practical - placing the battery pack under the rear seat means 410 litres of boot space is now available compared with 375 litres in the old car. But this new model is also decidedly more sporty, which is an important consideration with British drivers, and we think it will be well received and bring more customers to the brand. It's an unrivaled package in the sector but as well as offering what we believe to be the ultimate in hybrid performance travel, this is a car that puts a smile on your face as you drive," corporate operations strategy manager Amanda Hook-Brown told Fleet News.
With emissions of 46g/km, an economy potential of 141mpg and an electric-drive range of 29 miles, the 530e outperforms its arch rival, the Mercedes-Benz E350e SE, has a lower cost and is cheaper to insure. At £134 per month, it also offers a lower BIK liability for a 40% taxpayer.
However, there’s no hint of economy progress as the new eight-speed auto PHEV sweeps away from rest. Initial take-up is swift and acceleration rapid with the twin-turbo petrol engine and electric motor developing a total of more than 250PS but with a lighter touch on the accelerator, speed will still build up to 87MPH on electricity alone. As torque from both power sources is fed to the rear wheels, handling characteristics are little changed from traditionally-driven 5 models and fine balance allows the car to maintain its poise when driven enthusiastically over twisty routes.
Even though well-weighted steering emphasises its overtly sporty nature, this large saloon provides a smooth ride and the high comfort levels that make light of long distance travel. Standard equipment is comprehensive and includes navigation with real-time traffic information, twin-zone climate control, leather trim, cruise control with an auto braking function and ambient lighting.
In auto eDrive mode, the hybrid system blends both power sources but other options allow electric-only travel or the reservation of battery capacity for subsequent zero emissions travel. Total range is almost 400 miles and the five-hour full charge time for the lithium-ion battery from a domestic plug can be reduced to under three hours with a BMW wallbox.
Verdict: In PHEV guise, Britain’s default executive express becomes the ultimate cake-and-eat-it car in its segment by offering a dynamic driving performance along with a fresh standard of efficient operation and all-electric mobility.
Model tested BMW 530e iPerformance SE